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2018 abdominal sepsis

Hot Topics in Acute Care Surgery and Trauma

Massimo Sartelli
Matteo Bassetti
Ignacio Martin-Loeches Editors

A Multidisciplinary Approach

Hot Topics in Acute Care Surgery
and Trauma
Series Editors
Federico Coccolini
Cesena, Italy
Raul Coimbra
San Diego, USA
Andrew W. Kirkpatrick
Calgary, Canada
Salomone Di Saverio

Cambridge, UK
Editorial Board:
Luca Ansaloni (Bergamo, Italy); Zsolt Balogh (Newcastle, Australia); Walt Biffl
(Denver, USA); Fausto Catena (Parma, Italy); Kimberly Davis (New Haven, USA);
Paula Ferrada (Richmond, USA); Gustavo Fraga (Campinas, Brazil); Rao Ivatury
(Richmond, USA); Yoram Kluger (Haifa, Israel); Ari Leppaniemi (Helsinki, Finland);
Ron Maier (Seattle, USA); Ernest E. Moore (Fort Collins, USA); Lena Napolitano
(Ann Arbor, USA); Andrew Peitzman (Pittsburgh, USA); Patrick Rielly (Philadelphia,
USA); Sandro Rizoli (Toronto, Canada); Boris Sakakushev (Plovdiv, Bulgaria);
Massimo Sartelli (Macerata, Italy); Thomas Scalea (Baltimore, USA); David Spain
(Stanford, USA); Philip Stahel (Denver, USA); Michael Sugrue (Letterkenny, Ireland);
George Velmahos (Boston, USA); Dieter Weber (Perth, Australia)

This series covers the most debated issues in acute care and trauma surgery, from
perioperative management to organizational and health policy issues. Since 2011,
the founder members of the World Society of Emergency Surgery’s (WSES) Acute
Care and Trauma Surgeons group, who endorse the series, realized the need to
provide more educational tools for young surgeons in training and for general
physicians and other specialists new to this discipline: WSES is currently developing
a systematic scientific and educational program founded on evidence-based
medicine and objective experience. Covering the complex management of acute
trauma and non-trauma surgical patients, this series makes a significant contribution
to this program and is a valuable resource for both trainees and practitioners in acute
care surgery.
More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/15718

Massimo Sartelli  •  Matteo Bassetti
Ignacio Martin-Loeches

Abdominal Sepsis
A Multidisciplinary Approach

Massimo Sartelli
Department of Surgery
Macerata Hospital
Macerata, Italy
Ignacio Martin-Loeches
St James's University Hospital
Trinity Centre for Health Sciences
Dublin, Ireland

Matteo Bassetti
Clinica Malattie Infettive,
Dipartimento di Medicina
Università di Udine and Azienda
Ospedaliera Universitaria Santa Maria
della Misericordia
Presidio Ospedaliero Universitario Santa
Maria della Misercordia
Udine, Italy

ISSN 2520-8284    ISSN 2520-8292 (electronic)
Hot Topics in Acute Care Surgery and Trauma
ISBN 978-3-319-59703-4    ISBN 978-3-319-59704-1 (eBook)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017954271
© Springer International Publishing AG 2018
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Since 2011, the founding members of the World Society of Emergency Surgery
(WSES) Acute Care and Trauma Surgeons group, in collaboration with the American
Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST), endorse the development and publication of the “Hot Topics in Acute Care Surgery and Trauma,” realizing the need
to provide more educational tools for young in-training surgeons and for general
physicians and other surgical specialists. These new forthcoming titles have been
selected and prepared with this philosophy in mind. The books will cover the basics
of pathophysiology and clinical management, framed with the reference that recent
advances in the science of resuscitation, surgery, and critical care medicine have the
potential to profoundly alter the epidemiology and subsequent outcomes of severe
surgical illnesses and trauma. In particular, abdominal sepsis requires detailed
understanding as the population ages presenting with multiple co-morbidities. The
challenge of dealing with often elderly and sicker patients is potentially balanced
however by newer less invasive surgical techniques and advances in peri-operative
critical care, demanding careful judgement in applying the right therapies to the
right patients.
Cesena, Italy
San Diego, USA
Calgary, Canada
Cambridge, UK

F. Coccolini
R. Coimbra
A.W. Kirkpatrick
S. Di Saverio



Intra-abdominal infections (IAIs) are an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Management of IAIs requires a multidisciplinary approach. The treatment of
patients with complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAIs) involves both source
control and antimicrobial therapy. However, while surgical techniques improved
treatment modalities for these patients, the adequate use of antibiotics within the
management of cIAIs plays an integral role to prevent local and hematogenous
spread and to reduce late complications. The choice of empiric antibiotics in patients
with IAI should be based on the severity of the infection, the individual risk for
infection by resistant pathogens, and the local resistance profile. Predisposing conditions, the nature and extent of insult, the nature and magnitude of the host response,
and the degree of concomitant organ dysfunction provide a useful and novel
approach to IAIs. In this book, experts from different fields in the management of
severely ill patients affected by IAIs contributed to give a broad and multidisciplinary approach to the management of IAIs.
The first chapters of the book describe the difficulties related to classification,
diagnosis, the radiological caveats, and challenges in patients affected by IAIs. This
part is followed by a series of chapters that focus on the difficulties of source control, the alternatives in management, and the new developments of damage control
surgery. In the last chapters, the most severe spectrum of the disease is discussed,
with a focus on antibiotic management, including antifungals, hemodynamic support, and alternatives to adjunctive therapies in the pipeline.
When the book was conceived, our aim was to provide a broader approach to
IAIs, and this is the reason why, as said above, we decided to involve the most
renowned experts from three different disciplines: surgery infectious diseases, and
intensive care. We hope that this might help to integrate the information already
available to the readers, widening the perspective on this topic.
Macerata, Italy
Udine, Italy 
Dublin, Ireland 

Massimo Sartelli
Matteo Bassetti
Ignacio Martin-Loeches



1Classification and Principals of Treatment������������������������������������������������  1
Amelia Simpson, Leslie Kobayashi, and Raul Coimbra
2Inflammatory Mediators in Intra-­abdominal Sepsis������������������������������  15
Andrew W. Kirkpatrick, Jimmy Xiao, Craig N. Jenne,
and Derek J. Roberts
3Intra-abdominal Sepsis and Imaging Considerations����������������������������  29
Asanthi M. Ratnasekera and Paula Ferrada
4High-Risk Patients and Prognostic Factors
for Abdominal Sepsis ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������  37
Bruno M. Pereira and Gustavo P. Fraga
5Acute Appendicitis: What Is the Best Strategy to Treat Acute
Appendicitis (Both Complicated and Uncomplicated)? ������������������������  47
Matteo Mandrioli, Massimo Sartelli, Arianna Birindelli,
Edoardo Segalini, Fausto Catena, Federico Coccolini,
Luca Ansaloni, and Salomone Di Saverio
6Acute Cholecystitis������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  51
Paola Fugazzola, Federico Coccolini, Giulia Montori, Cecilia Merli,
Michele Pisano, and Luca Ansaloni
7Acute Cholangitis ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  65
Zhongkai Wang, Saleem Ahmed, and Vishal G. Shelat
8Pyogenic Liver Abscess������������������������������������������������������������������������������  83
Yeo Danson, Tan Ming Yuan, and Vishal G. Shelat
9Gastroduodenal Perforations��������������������������������������������������������������������  95
Kjetil Søreide
10Small Bowel Perforations������������������������������������������������������������������������  105
Sanjy Marwah




11Acute Colonic Diverticulitis��������������������������������������������������������������������  163
Jan Ulrych
12Postoperative Peritonitis: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment������������  179
Torsten Herzog and Waldemar Uhl
13Damage Control Surgery in Managing Abdominal Sepsis (Fausto
Catena, Italy)���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 201
Fausto Catena and Gennaro Perrone
14Ongoing Peritonitis������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 211
Andreas Hecker, Birgit Hecker, Christoph Lichtenstern, Matthias Hecker,
Jens G. Riedel, Markus A. Weigand, and Winfried Padberg
15Evolving Treatment Strategies for Severe Clostridium
difficile Colitis: Defining the Therapeutic Window������������������������������  225
Peter K. Kim, Peng Zhao, and Sheldon Teperman
16Complicated Intra-abdominal Infections: Principles
of Antimicrobial Therapy������������������������������������������������������������������������  241
Matteo Bassetti, Elda Righi, and Massimo Sartelli
17Antimicrobial Armamentarium��������������������������������������������������������������� 249
Sean M. Stainton and David P. Nicolau
18Antimicrobial Resistance in Intra-­abdominal Infections ��������������������  265
Garyphallia Poulakou, Georgios Siakallis, and Sotirios Tsiodras
19The Role of  Candida in Abdominal Sepsis��������������������������������������������  287
Philippe Montravers, Aurélie Snauwaert, Claire Geneve,
and Mouna Ben Rehouma
20The Value and Interpretation of Microbiological
Specimens in the Management of cIAI��������������������������������������������������  301
Warren Lowman
21Appropriate Antimicrobial Therapy in Critically Ill Patients������������  319
Fekade B. Sime and Jason A. Roberts
22Hemodynamic Support����������������������������������������������������������������������������  343
Pedro Povoa and António Carneiro
23Adjunctive Therapies in Abdominal Sepsis�������������������������������������������� 359
Thomas Ryan and John D. Coakley
24Impact and Management of Abdominal Compartment
Syndrome in Patients with Abdominal Sepsis��������������������������������������  369
Jan J. De Waele



25Thromboprophylaxis in Patients with Abdominal Sepsis��������������������  379
Federico Coccolini, Fausto Catena, Giulia Montori, Marco Ceresoli,
Paola Fugazzola, Matteo Tomasoni, Davide Corbella,
Sartelli Massimo, and Luca Ansaloni
26Nutritional Support for Abdominal Sepsis��������������������������������������������  389
Martin D. Rosenthal, Cameron M. Rosenthal, Amir Y. Kamel,
and Frederick A. Moore


Classification and Principals
of Treatment
Amelia Simpson, Leslie Kobayashi, and Raul Coimbra



Intra-abdominal infection (IAI) is the second most common cause of severe sepsis
in the intensive care unit (ICU). Even with optimal care, this disease process confers
significant morbidity and mortality. The most common causes of IAI involve inflammation and perforation of the gastrointestinal tract including appendicitis, diverticulitis, and peptic ulcer disease. Other etiologies often more challenging to treat
include postoperative complications, iatrogenic procedural complications, and traumatic injuries. Treatment is multimodal including, most importantly, source control
in conjunction with timely systemic antimicrobial therapy, resuscitation, and supportive care. Given the wide spectrum of disease from focal isolated inflammation
to diffuse peritonitis with septic shock and organ failure, the treatment is varied and
complex. This chapter includes a review of clinical definitions and classification of
the disease process as well as a basic overview of treatment.

A. Simpson, M.D. • L. Kobayashi, M.D., F.A.C.S. • R. Coimbra, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S. (*)
Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care, Burns, and Acute Care Surgery,
University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
e-mail: rcoimbra@ucsd.edu

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018
M. Sartelli et al. (eds.), Abdominal Sepsis, Hot Topics in Acute Care Surgery
and Trauma, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-59704-1_1




A. Simpson et al.


1.2.1 Intra-abdominal Infections
IAI is the inflammatory response of the peritoneum to microorganisms and their
toxins which produces purulence within the abdomen [1]. These intra-abdominal
infections are classified as uncomplicated or complicated based on the extent of
infection within the abdominal cavity (Fig. 1.1).
An uncomplicated IAI is confined to a single organ. There is intramural inflammation of the organ, but no perforation. These infections are generally simple to
treat with surgical source control; however, delay in diagnosis, delay in definitive
treatment, or infection with a virulent or nosocomial microbe can result in advancement to a complicated IAI [2–4].
Complicated IAIs spread beyond the causal organ when the viscus perforates
into the peritoneal cavity. Peritoneal inflammation occurs causing localized or diffuse peritonitis and greater activation of the systemic inflammatory response system
[3, 5]. Localized peritonitis is often a result of a contained infection or abscess.
Diffuse peritonitis is associated with higher morbidity and mortality and requires
urgent surgical treatment. Diffuse peritonitis is divided into primary, secondary, and
tertiary forms.
Most intra-abdominal infections activate the inflammatory cascade; however,
an IAI which causes severe sepsis or septic shock is described as abdominal
sepsis [3].

Intra-abdominal infection

(Health care vs. community acquired source)



Localized peritonitis


Diffuse peritonitis


Fig. 1.1  Classification of intra-abdominal infections


1  Classification and Principals of Treatment


1.2.2 Peritonitis Primary Peritonitis
Primary peritonitis also known as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis is the result of
bacterial translocation across the GI tract in the absence of any discrete visceral
defect. Bacterial translocation occurs via multiple proposed mechanisms including
alterations in the local immune defense, intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and impairment in the intestinal barrier [6, 7]. These infections are frequently caused by a
single organism and afflict specific patient populations. Commonly cirrhotic patients
are infected with gram-negative or Enterococci organisms, peritoneal dialysis
patients with Staphylococcus aureus, and young females with Pneumococcus species [8, 9]. Physical findings may be subtle. The diagnosis is made by peritoneal
fluid aspirate. Peritoneal fluid will show >500 white blood cells/mm3, increased
lactate, and/or low glucose. Positive fluid cultures are diagnostic. Resolution is indicated by a decrease in the peritoneal white blood cell count to <250/mm3 [10].
Primary peritonitis is treated with systemic antibiotics tailored to the offending
organism [11]. Outcome is generally good following appropriate therapy; however, mortality is increased among patients requiring admission to the intensive care
unit [12]. Secondary Peritonitis
Secondary peritonitis is caused by direct peritoneal contamination from the GI tract
due to perforation, injury, or necrosis [8, 13]. Etiologies include acute perforation,
specifically perforated appendicitis, perforated ulcers, diverticular disease, volvulus, cancer, or small bowel obstruction. Additional causes include postoperative
complications such as anastomotic dehiscence and traumatic blunt or penetrating
injuries [14]. Diagnosis of secondary peritonitis is mostly based on history and clinical examination. Specific diagnoses can be confirmed with diagnostic imaging,
most often computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound [15]. Ultrasonography is a
particularly useful initial imaging for the diagnosis of biliary sources of peritonitis;
however, CT of the abdomen and pelvis with intravenous and oral contrast is the
standard imaging modality to diagnose intra-abdominal causes of peritonitis [16]. It
must be kept in mind that only patients who are well resuscitated and hemodynamically stable should undergo CT scanning. Secondary peritonitis is generally polymicrobial with the causal organisms correlating to the source of contamination. Tertiary Peritonitis
The International Sepsis Forum Consensus defines tertiary peritonitis as peritonitis
which persists or recurs >48 h following apparently successful management of primary or secondary peritonitis [17]. This is thought to be due to altered microbial
flora, failure of immune response, or progressive organ dysfunction. Patient age,
malnutrition, and the presence of multidrug-resistant organisms may be risk factors
for developing tertiary peritonitis. A microbial shift occurs in these patients toward
less virulent organisms such as Enterococcus, Enterobacter, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Candida [18–20].


A. Simpson et al.

An additional critically important distinction in this disease process is differentiating community-acquired IAIs from hospital acquired IAIs. Community-acquired
infections are sensitive to narrow-spectrum antimicrobial agents. Hospital-acquired
cases develop in hospitalized patients, residents of long-term care facilities, or
patients who have recently been treated with antibiotics. All postoperative IAIs are
therefore hospital-acquired intra-abdominal infections. Not surprisingly, hospital-­
acquired IAIs are associated with increased mortality [21].


Prognostic Evaluation

Early prognostication of patients with IAIs is crucial to assess severity and decide
on the aggressiveness of treatment. Numerous factors affecting the prognosis of
patients with complicated IAIs have been described including advanced age, poor
nutritional status, preexisting comorbid conditions, immunosuppression, presence
of abdominal sepsis, poor source control, end-organ failure, prolonged hospitalization, and infection with nosocomial organisms [22–26]. Stratification of the patient’s
risk is paramount in order to optimize the treatment plan. Patients are generally
categorized as low risk or high risk. High risk describes patients who are at high risk
for treatment failure and mortality; therefore, early prognostic evaluation is critical
to appropriately treat the high-risk patients aggressively [27]. There are several
scoring systems used to stratify patients. There are disease-independent scores for
evaluation of patients requiring the intensive care unit admission such as APACHE
II and Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS II). There are also peritonitis-­
specific scores such as Mannheim Peritonitis Index (MPI). More recently, the WSES
Sepsis Severity Score is a new scoring system for complicated IAIs that considers
infection-related factors and patient clinical characteristics and is easy to
calculate [27].



The key components of the treatment of abdominal sepsis include source control,
resuscitation and organ support, and systemic antibiotic therapy. The most critical
component is source control [28]. Minimizing time from presentation to diagnosis
and treatment significantly reduces morbidity and mortality [29].

1.4.1 Source Control
Source control is defined as the physical eradication of a focus of infection as well
as modifying any risk factors that maintain infection such as ongoing spillage or
leakage of enteric contents. Inadequate source control at the time of initial treatment
is associated with increased mortality in patients with IAIs despite optimal antibiotic therapy, resuscitation, and organ support [30].

1  Classification and Principals of Treatment

5 Drainage
The goal of drainage is to evacuate purulent fluid or to control ongoing contamination. This can be performed in a percutaneous or open surgical manner. Percutaneous
drainage is less invasive, less expensive, and ideal for contained abscesses or fluid
pockets. It is most commonly performed with ultrasound or CT guidance [31, 32].
This technique is also useful for poor surgical candidates who would not tolerate the
stress of an operation (Fig. 1.2).
Complex abscesses with enteric connection should be drained operatively [33]
(Fig. 1.3). Surgical drainage should also be used to treat complex generalized peritonitis, ongoing enteric contamination, if necrotic or ischemic bowel is suspected or
if percutaneous drainage has failed. Depending on the clinical situation and surgeon
experience, this can be safely done in a laparoscopic or open manner [34].
Debridement of necrotic tissue and removal of fecal matter, gross contamination,
hematoma, and foreign bodies are critical for adequate source control. Removal of
fibrin deposits has been described, however has been shown to have no benefit, and
is therefore not generally performed [35].
Intra-abdominal lavage is a debated technique for treatment of peritonitis.
Advocates of peritoneal lavage argue that the technique improves outcomes in four
ways. First, the solution acts as a physical cleanser by washing away contamination,
bacteria, blood, and bile. Second, using lavage volumes greater than 10 L has a
dilutional effect on contamination and bacteria. Third when antimicrobial agents are
added to the lavage solution, specific offending microbes can be targeted. Lastly,
use of a hypotonic solution will result in tumor and bacterial cell lysis [36].
Unfortunately the use of this technique for treatment of abdominal sepsis is largely
unsupported by the literature as most recent studies have not shown any benefit
from peritoneal lavage with or without the addition of antibiotics [37, 38].

Fig. 1.2  A CT image of
an intra-abdominal
abscess (arrow) amenable
to percutaneous drainage


A. Simpson et al.

Fig. 1.3  A CT image of a complex intra-abdominal fluid collection with free air (arrow) and fecal
contamination requiring surgical exploration Damage Control Laparotomy
Clinically unstable patients or those with difficult or complicated anatomy such as
postoperative patients and those with advanced malignancies or with intra-­
abdominal hypertension (IAH) are particularly problematic to treat surgically. In
these situations a staged approach or damage control techniques can be useful with
the use of a temporary abdominal closure. The concept of damage control laparotomy (DCL) first began in trauma patients and has since spread to the general and
vascular surgery realms. Damage control principles are now widely adopted in
abdominal surgical emergencies where primary closure is not advisable [39]. The
DCL technique has three stages. The first stage is an abbreviated initial procedure
aimed at controlling contamination; removal of infected, necrotic, or ischemic tissue; and hemorrhage control. If needed because of instability or questionable tissue viability, the bowel can be left in discontinuity. This initial procedure is
concluded with a temporary abdominal closure (TAC). The TAC should prevent
evisceration, evacuate fluid, allow quick access to the abdomen, and allow for
abdominal swelling [40, 41]. The second stage of DCL is resuscitation aimed at
restoring normal physiology. Once this is achieved and concerns for ongoing ischemia, necrosis, and IAH are resolved, the patient is taken back to the operating
room for the third stage which is definitive source control, reconstruction, and
abdominal wall closure [42]. Planned Relaparotomy Versus On-Demand Relaparotomy
There are two accepted strategies for relaparotomy. First is a planned relaparotomy.
The second is on-demand relaparotomy performed only when the patient’s condition demand it. Planned relaparotomy is performed every 36–48 h for evaluation,
drainage, and lavage until resolution of ongoing peritonitis. This strategy can lead
to early detection of ongoing peritonitis or new infection with the goal of preventing

1  Classification and Principals of Treatment


ongoing sepsis and development of multiorgan failure. Unfortunately this can lead
to unnecessary laparotomies without improvement in outcomes. The on-demand
laparotomy strategy is intended to perform repeat laparotomy only on patients who
clinically would benefit from surgery. Specifically those who require on-demand
laparotomy are patients with clinical deterioration or lack of improvement after
initial laparotomy. This treatment strategy requires close monitoring of patients
with clinical criteria, laboratory studies, and imaging to efficiently identify patients
who require relaparotomy. It also allows for less invasive percutaneous image-­
guided interventions to address ongoing infections or abscesses instead of a planned
relaparotomy. This strategy harbors risk of potentially harmful delay in the detection of ongoing peritonitis [43]. The goal of on-demand laparotomy is to identify
patients at risk for persistent intra-abdominal sepsis and intervene before developing multiorgan failure. Studies have shown significant cost savings and shorter ICU
and hospital stay and number of days on the ventilator with the on-demand laparotomy strategy compared with planned re-laparotomy [44, 45]. Studies have not
shown a difference in mortality between the two strategies, and specific clinical
criteria are still needed to improve the accuracy of identifying patients requiring
on-demand laparotomy [45–47]. Definitive Management
Definitive management involves restoration of function and anatomy. Staged procedures with temporary intestinal diversion were once standard; however, in the stable, physiologically normal patient, single-stage procedures can be safely performed
and are cost-effective [48]. Nevertheless, in patients who will not tolerate longer
procedures and have poor tissue healing capacity or little physiologic reserve,
staged procedures with enteric diversion are still the preferred operative choice [4].

1.4.2 Resuscitation and Organ Support
Intra-abdominal infections result in volume depletion both from significant insensible losses and third spacing of fluid from sepsis-driven capillary leak. As with
many infectious processes, fever results in fluid loss from diaphoresis, and tachypnea increases respiratory losses. Common symptoms of IAIs include nausea, vomiting, and decreased oral intake which all lead to dehydration and further fluid
losses. Bowel wall edema and ascites can occur from the IAI associated ileus and
inflammatory process. The systemic inflammatory response cascade will cause further volume depletion due to capillary leak and third spacing of fluid. Expedient
volume resuscitation is therefore critical in the treatment of IAIs and abdominal
sepsis. Any patient with severe sepsis or septic shock should be admitted to the
intensive care unit for close monitoring of hemodynamics and volume status. The
first 6 h of resuscitation should be performed following the Surviving Sepsis
Campaign Guidelines. Isotonic fluid should be used for volume resuscitation or
blood products in the setting of anemia or coagulopathy to achieve a goal central
venous pressure (CVP) of 8–12 mmHg, mean arterial pressure (MAP) of >65 mmHg,


A. Simpson et al.

goal urine output of >0.5 mL/kg/h, and central venous or mixed venous oxygen
saturation of 70% or 65%, respectively [49]. A number of large randomized control
trials have evaluated crystalloid versus colloid as a resuscitation fluid in sepsis. No
randomized trial or meta-analysis has demonstrated definitive benefit from using
colloid for resuscitation [50–54]. Crystalloid is markedly cheaper, readily available,
and should be used as the fluid of choice for resuscitation. If fluid resuscitation is
inadequate to maintain minimal hemodynamic parameters, vasopressors should be
started. Norepinephrine is the preferred first-line agent [49, 55]. Vasopressin can be
added to norepinephrine if needed, and epinephrine and dopamine are alternative
agents to norepinephrine [49]. In the setting of myocardial dysfunction suggested
by low cardiac output or high cardiac filling pressures, dobutamine may be effective
in maintaining adequate MAP [49].
Indicators of end-organ function such as mental status and urine output should be
closely monitored to ensure adequate tissue perfusion. Tissue perfusion and correction of oxygen debt can also be measured by a number of laboratory endpoints
including base deficit, lactate level, and mixed venous oxygen saturation (SVO2).
Base deficit is the amount of base needed to titrate whole blood to a normal pH (7.4)
at normal physiologic conditions, and because it is measured when PCO2 is normal,
it is a more specific marker of non-respiratory acid base disturbances than serum
bicarbonate [56]. Increased base deficit correlates with amount of global tissue acidosis, resuscitation requirements, and mortality [57, 58]. Elevated lactate is a result
of tissue dysoxia and has been used as an indirect measure of oxygen debt. Lactate
accumulation in sepsis may not be the result of tissue oxygen deprivation and
instead as a result of a hypermetabolic state with enhanced glycolysis and hyperlactatemia. It is therefore a less reliable indicator of oxygen debt, but decreasing levels
of serum lactate may still be associated with improved outcomes [59, 60]. SVO2 is
dependent on cardiac output, oxygen demand, and hemoglobin and arterial oxygen
saturation. A septic patient may have normal or elevated SVO2 but not have adequate tissue oxygenation due to misdistribution of blood flow. Despite this, a low
SVO2 is an indicator of inadequate tissue oxygenation and requires quick intervention to increase oxygen delivery [61]. Using a resuscitation goal of SVO2 > 65% has
been shown to improve outcomes [62].
None of these measured endpoints of tissue oxygenation are definitive on their
own. They are single data points, which should be evaluated in combination with the
clinical picture, hemodynamic measures, and end-organ function to guide

1.4.3 Antimicrobial Therapy Empiric Antibiotic Therapy
Source control is the cornerstone of treatment for IAIs; however, systemic antibiotic
therapy is a critical adjunct. Uncomplicated IAIs are generally managed surgically
and only require perioperative antibiotics. Complicated IAIs require early systemic
antibiotic therapy to prevent bacteremia and spread of the infection and for the

1  Classification and Principals of Treatment


reduction of late complications [63]. Timing to initiation of antibiotics is important
and in cases of abdominal sepsis is critical and should occur within 1 h of diagnosis
[49]. There are a number of standardized antibiotic regimens used in IAIs. The regimen used depends on the source of infection, patient’s immune status, and likelihood of resistant organisms. Due to the variable pattern of flora in the gastrointestinal
tract, the location of the perforated viscous will determine the offending organism.
In a healthy individual, the stomach and duodenum are largely sterile or sparsely
colonized with gram-positive organisms, lactobacilli, or Candida. Gram-negative
organisms are found in the proximal small bowel and anaerobes in the distal small
bowel and colon [8, 64]. If the source of IAI is known, location-specific organisms
can be targeted. IAIs with unknown source should be treated with a broad-spectrum
regimen based on patient risk factors. If there are no identifiable patient risk factors
and the patient is deemed low risk, narrow-spectrum antibiotics can be started covering anaerobic and gram-negative organisms [8]. High-risk patients require broad-­
spectrum antibiotics covering for resistant organisms and tailored to the
institution-specific antibiogram. Inadequate initial antibiotic treatment results in
longer hospital stays, higher rates of postoperative abscesses and reoperation, and
increased mortality [25, 65]. Cultures should be taken in high-risk patients so that
antibiotics can then be de-escalated and tailored to the offending organism [66]. Length of  Treatment
Judicious and rational use of antimicrobials is a vital part of clinical practice in
order to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance and worsening of emerging
infections such as Clostridium difficile. For IAIs, timely empiric coverage with antimicrobials is critical for treatment, but mindfulness over length of treatment must
also be considered. Previous practice involved continuing antibiotic therapy until
resolution of fever, leukocytosis, and return of bowel function [67]. However, more
recent studies have shown that a fixed shorter treatment course is adequate. Several
recent studies have demonstrated that a 4-day course of antibiotics in conjunction
with adequate source control had the same outcomes as longer courses of antibiotics
in patients with complicated IAIs and abdominal sepsis [68, 69]. In fact, protracted
antibiotic courses may be harmful. IAIs treated for greater than 7 days with antimicrobials were associated with increased extra-abdominal infections and mortality
[70]. A recent task force termed AGORA (antimicrobials: a global alliance for optimizing their rational use in intra-abdominal infections) put forth a set of recommendations emphasizing early empiric treatment and the use of narrow-spectrum
antimicrobials for community-acquired low-risk infections and broad-spectrum
antimicrobials for hospital-acquired or high-risk infections. This task force also
found that a treatment course as short as 4 days was sufficient for most patients with
complicated IAIs when source control had been obtained [71]. Additionally, once
tolerating oral intake, antimicrobials should be switched from intravenous to oral
regimens and narrowed based on sensitivities from culture data [71]. Patients with
signs of infection beyond 5–7 days of antibiotic treatment should undergo aggressive diagnostic maneuvers to identify ongoing uncontrolled sources of infection,
antimicrobial treatment failure, or tertiary peritonitis [3].


A. Simpson et al.


Optimal care of IAI hinges on timely multifactorial care. Source control is the
cornerstone of treatment and is tailored to the severity of the infection ranging
from minimally invasive surgery or percutaneous drainage to a staged or damage control approach. Aggressive resuscitation and supportive care are paramount for physiologic recovery from the stress of the infection as well as the
surgical intervention. Early, empiric antibiotic therapy based on patient risk
stratification should be limited to a short fixed course unless the patient has
poor clinical response in which case reassessment and possible re-intervention
are indicated.

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Inflammatory Mediators in
Intra-­abdominal Sepsis
Andrew W. Kirkpatrick, Jimmy Xiao, Craig N. Jenne,
and Derek J. Roberts


 bdominal Sepsis, Inflammatory Mediators,
and Possible Therapeutic Strategies

The current consensus definitions for sepsis have defined sepsis as “life-threatening
organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection” [3, 4]. This
new definition emphasizes the primacy of non-homeostatic host response to infection. Yet, at present, there is no gold-standard diagnostic test for this syndrome,
mainly due to the current challenges in the microbiologic confirmation of infection.
Thus, the clinical criteria of “suspected infection,” which include clinical signs and
symptoms in a patient who requires antimicrobial treatment or body fluid culture,
are suggested for operationalization proxies.
However, the clinical manifestations of sepsis are identical to those secondary to
systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). The cause of SIRS can be infectious or noninfectious insults such as trauma, major surgery, acute pancreatitis, or

A.W. Kirkpatrick, M.D., M.H.Sc., F.R.C.S.C. (*)
Regional Trauma Services, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Department of Surgery, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Synder Institute for Chronic Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
e-mail: Andrew.Kirkpatrick@albertahealthservices.ca
J. Xiao, M.D., Ph.D.
Regional Trauma Services, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
C.N. Jenne, Ph.D.
Synder Institute for Chronic Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
D.J. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D.
Regional Trauma Services, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Department of Surgery, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
© Springer International Publishing AG 2018
M. Sartelli et al. (eds.), Abdominal Sepsis, Hot Topics in Acute Care Surgery
and Trauma, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-59704-1_2


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